Mar 24, 2023 2023-03-24
By Anita Compart
Even as life returns to normal in a post-pandemic world, students and educators continue to grapple with the challenges of this once-in-a-lifetime situation. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently found that 70 percent of public schools reported an increase in the number of students seeking mental health services at school since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while roughly three-quarters (76 percent) of schools also reported an increase in staff voicing concerns about students exhibiting symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.
One of the unique challenges I’ve had in my own classroom is how to address the limited social interaction and lack of structured learning environment that many students experienced during these past few years. Adjusting to the “new normal” of school led to an uptick of outbursts and other disruptive behaviors. In response, I’ve turned to play-based learning, which at its core is learning through the act of playing. As LEGO Foundation’s 2017 white paper, “Learning Through Play: A Review of the Evidence,” noted “Through active engagement with ideas and knowledge, and also with the world at large, we see children as better prepared to deal with tomorrow’s reality…from this perspective, learning through play is crucial for positive, healthy development, regardless of a child’s situation.”
A play-based curriculum allows you to meet students where they are, which makes for more engaged learning. Below are three quick and effective tools I’ve used to bring play-based learning into my classroom:
These are just a few of the countless ways you can bring play-based learning to your classroom. Let your imagination soar!
Anita Compart is a special education teacher with Jane Westerhold Early Learning Center, part of Community Consolidated School District 62 in Des Plaines, Illinois. You can find her on Twitter @AnitaCompart.
Health/Fitness Music Administrative Solutions
Digital Learning • Learning Support
Funding & Recognition
STEM • STEAM • STREAM